Obama’s new fuel-efficiency standards, which would increase the average fuel economy of new vehicles to 54.5 mpg by 2025, include incentives for automakers to build electric and fuel-cell powered cars. Natural gas powered vehicles are also on that list. But as Politico reports, that wasn’t always the case.
“In earlier drafts of the standards, incentives for alternative-fuel vehicles did not apply to natural gas.
But in a series of meetings, the natural gas industry and some automakers hammered away at the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department to argue that encouraging broader use of gas-powered vehicles wouldn’t mean doubling down on carbon-dioxide-emitting fossil fuels. They also pushed the message that natural gas — abundant in the United States and not tied to volatile global prices the way gasoline is — represents a win for national security.”
Environmental groups opposed the inclusion of natural gas powered cars, saying cars using fossil fuels shouldn’t give car manufacturers credit toward the new standards. But according to Politico, threats of a lawsuit helped change the Administration’s position.
In their presentation, the gas groups said excluding natural gas from the credit system would violate the Administrative Procedure Act by not showing a “rational nexus” between facts and the agencies’ decision. They also pointed to a January 2011 executive order in which Obama said regulations must protect “public health, welfare, safety and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and job creation.”
Industry also made the case that natural gas vehicles would serve as a “bridge” to developing fuel-cell powered cars and trucks. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, also pushed for the inclusion of natural gas vehicles in the mix.